BALTIMORE -- The U.S. Army continues to focus on priority research areas through its alliances with universities and industry.
The Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments Collaborative Research Alliance, or MEDE CRA, conducted its 2020 fall meeting Oct. 15. This meeting facilitates collaboration across the entire alliance; however with the pandemic, researchers switched to a virtual format. The group highlighted recent research accomplishments for new metallic, ceramic and composite protection materials, as well as new computational codes and tools for material research applications.
Advances in materials science will deliver protection overmatch against future threats. Leading this material by design approach for the alliance is Johns Hopkins University. At the meeting, 130 people participated, including principal investigators and students from consortium institutions and researchers from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory.
Invited scientists from the United Kingdom's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory; the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the U.S. Army CCDC Soldier Center; the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Command; Office of Naval Research and the National Ground Intelligence Center also attended the event.
Dr. Sikhanda Satapathy from CCDC ARL and Professor K.T. Ramesh from Johns Hopkins led the meeting, and provided an overview of the MEDE program. A video clip showed Army Chief of Staff General James C. McConville describing the alliance.
“This is incredible work that was done,” he said. “It’s cutting edge technology as far what it has done for body armor.”
In addition to the technical accomplishments, the program has made a significant impact in the area of workforce development. The MEDE program has produced 65 doctorates and supported 46 postdoctoral fellows, with 200 undergraduates participating in MEDE research activities, which include 55 from historically black colleges/universities and minority serving institutions. The alliance actively promotes the Army Educational Outreach Program, which results in the highest number of applications for their undergraduate and high school apprenticeship programs.
Dr. Adam Rawlett, CCDC ARL’s senior research scientist for materials, provided keynote remarks focused on the Army’s Science and Technology enterprise and the laboratory’s research priorities.
“The pairing of ARL researchers with university faculty is critical to the success of the MEDE CRA,” Rawlett said.
He also added that the graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are the backbone of the CRA.
A virtual poster session featured the work and accomplishments of 55 individuals from ARL researchers, university faculty, graduate students and postdocs from within the MEDE CRA. The session used individual virtual meeting rooms where attendees could visit with the presenter and discuss their research.
“MEDE has enabled me to advance my research by utilizing the facilities at both ARL and Johns Hopkins,” said Dr. Debjoy Mallick, a CCDC ARL scientist whose research is focused on laser shock experiments. “The geographical proximity has made it especially helpful during COVID-19.”
The meeting provided a venue for the scientists to exchange ideas.
“The CRA has enabled me to develop a better understand of materials behavior under extreme dynamic environments, which translates into developing robust armor systems for mitigating Army relevant threats,” said Dr. Cyril Williams, CCDC ARL.
Another Army scientist, Dr. Brendan Patterson, said the size of the MEDE program has allowed the laboratory to expand its composites research activities, “especially in the area of resin development.”
According to Satapathy, the meeting met its goals even though it happened in a virtual environment. It highlighted the “excellent scientific progress made collaboratively between ARL researchers, academia, and industry.” He said he is looking forward to the strong finish for the 10-year MEDE program, which will culminate in a capstone event in Fall 2021.
Researchers said the alliance is an integral part of CCDC ARL's Enterprise for Multiscale Research of Materials. The objective is to develop the capability to design, optimize and fabricate material systems exhibiting revolutionary performance in extreme dynamic environments. The underpinning science for these materials will lead to improved protection for Soldiers and military vehicles.
CCDC Army Research Laboratory is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. As the Army’s corporate research laboratory, ARL is operationalizing science to achieve transformational overmatch. Through collaboration across the command’s core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more successful at winning the nation’s wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the Army Futures Command.